Just hours before the arrival of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Beijing, China's defense ministry issued a stern warning aimed at Washington and its support for Taiwan. Col. Tan Kefei warned that the US is turning Taiwan into a "powder keg".
This was specifically in response to the Biden White House's latest approval of new arms deals for the self-ruled island, in sales worth $440 million. "China is firmly opposed to US arms sales to Taiwan and has lodged stern representations with the US," the Chinese military statement began. Certainly the timing of the statement is also aimed at reminding the newly arrived US delegation led by Yellen of Beijing's highest priorities and 'red lines'.
"We urge the US side to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, immediately cease arms sales to Taiwan, stop any form of military collusion with Taiwan, earnestly fulfill its commitment to not support 'Taiwan independence', and stop going further down the wrong and dangerous path," Tan said.
"This is tantamount to accelerating the transformation of Taiwan into a 'powder keg' and pushing the Taiwanese people into the abyss of disaster," he added. "China is firmly opposed to US arms sales to Taiwan and has lodged stern representations with the US."
The new arms deal, approved by the State Department last week, include $332.2 million in 30mm ammo and other equipment, as well as $108 million for spare defense parts. The blistering military statement was issued Wednesday, the day before Yellen's plane touched down in Beijing on Thursday.
Treasury said days ago in the statement announcing her trip, "While in Beijing, Secretary Yellen will discuss with [People’s Republic of China] officials the importance for our countries — as the world’s two largest economies — to responsibly manage our relationship, communicate directly about areas of concern, and work together to address global challenges."
The New York Times previewed of her three-day trip, the main meetings of which are expected to begin Friday:
The Treasury secretary arrived on Thursday afternoon and was greeted on the tarmac at Beijing’s airport by Yang Yingming, director general of China’s finance ministry, and R. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to China.
During her first full day of meetings on Friday, Ms. Yellen will meet with Liu He, China’s former vice premier, and Zhou Xiaochuan, the former governor of the People’s Bank of China. Later Friday, Ms. Yellen will meet with Premier Li Qiang at the Great Hall of the People. The Treasury secretary will also participate in a round-table discussion with officials from the American Chamber of Commerce in China to hear about the challenges that U.S. companies are facing in China.
At the start of this week the Chinese government hit back at the Biden administration's recently imposed export curbs on select materials which are crucial for advanced semiconductors and chip-making machinery. China on Tuesday just put in place its own export curbs on two rare metals - gallium and germanium - commonly used in computer chips and solar cells.
The NY Times underscored ahead of the first round of meetings in Beijing, "For Ms. Yellen, the challenge will be to convince her Chinese counterparts that the bevy of U.S. measures blocking access to sensitive technology such as semiconductors in the name of national security are not intended to inflict harm on the Chinese economy." The report added, "That will not be easy, as both countries continue to erect new barriers to trade and investment."